Total Shift Productions move on and add to their ever expanding list of avatars with the addition of snakes. Electing to produce an anthropomorphic avatar that by it’s basic characteristics is wildly varied and lacks limbs, a project of this kind would surely always be a challenge – but T.S.P give it their best shot.
For the most part (and particularly in the head) the textures on the snake avatars are striking, bright, with clear reference to the species that they are interpreting. The diamond scaling is evident in the shading layered over the colours, giving the impression of a bumpier, scaled surface. As pleasant as this is, the trend doesn’t appear to continue in the tail. Whilst the tail lacks a ‘scaled’ appearance, it does continue to reflect the colour scheme present in the rest of the avatar. The legs are textured to a similar quality as the head, mirroring scaled aspects and echoing the patterns found on the specific snake breed. The transitions from skin to attachment are fairly well executed through the use of scaly-looking clothing layers, complimenting a smooth, lightly shaded skin beneath.
The avatar is comprised entirely of sculpts, save for the flexible cone prim tail. The sculpted parts are completed to a pleasant standard, with no visible wrinkling. Each piece is symmetrical where it needs to be, and the overall shape of the face has been clearly researched and referenced. Despite having limbs, the build quality of the face removes all doubt over the species that this creation is conveying.
Right from the start, the snake and cobra avatars are very striking in their appearance. The large head and generally tall structure to the entire avatar lends itself to this.
The style is not magnetised to realism, however, and this allows the creator to emphasise various features to make them stand out, with the understandable artistic license of how to address hands and feet. The standard snake and cobra avatars walk on spike-tipped legs. Whilst initially rather jarring, this creative decision addresses the question of snake limbs in a fascinating and rather effective way. The spike itself remains in keeping with the style shown in the large hand claws and pointed teeth. The legs are comprised of a single attachment each, so there is no pivoting occuring in the ankle with any animation. This means that for the most part, the spike is sturdily in contact with the floor most of the time. The basic shapes present in the face remain true to the species, down to the smallest gap at the front of the muzzle for the snake’s tongue, which is a stationary sculpt in this particular avatar.
One of this avatar’s main strengths really does come from the quality and unique nature of the heads. They are at once aesthetically pleasing but somewhat intimidating, possibly due to their scaling in comparison to the rest of the body. Both the cobra and ‘regular’ snake varieties have this level of detail. The unusual nature of the legs is also something of an intriguing distraction in their execution. The snake does succeed in creating a slightly terrifying impression overall, which presumably is what the creator was going for. The attention to detail when it comes to looking at each individual snake breed is stunning. Each mark is referenced with accuracy, both in colour and positioning.
The only real area of concern on this avatar is that It does seem as though transition between the tail base and the skin could also have had the same clothing layer treatment as the rest of the skin to aid in blending. Whilst the colour palette remains accurate, the sudden change in texture from the body to the tail looks as though it supports a different art style, contrasting from smooth, gentle shading to a more block-colored design.
The snakes do come with a well-illustrated HUD, offering commands for the jaw and the degree to which it opens. There is also a toggle that allows the fangs that would contain the venom canal to either drop down or be tucked away at the wearers discretion. A page dedicated to eye expressions is also present. Users can toggle these options to tilt the eyelids into varying degrees to convey emotions including but not limited to anger, sadness or confusion
The snake and cobra avatars come with an extra box. The box contains an extremely wide array of alternative eye textures made by Zexen Alecto, which can be easily swapped into your avatar with minimal effort using the build menu and ‘edit linked parts’, selecting each eye. This folder also contains a spare, resizable head for users who may find the standard one a little to small or large for their tastes.
As previously mentioned, all prim transitions are aided with the use of clothing and tattoo layers. This is interesting and unusual.. As it means that the wearer can use any other skin, and make the attachments for the snake blend with the body. The skin alone can support the attachments if users prefers.
This is by no means a generic ‘snake’ with one main skin, and hue-slider variations. A lot of time, research and consideration has gone into each identifiable species. Each have their own unique textures, with some physical differences in shape and size depending on the variety chosen.
The snakes that are currently available are as follows:
- Albino Ball
- Black Headed
T.S.P are offering Limited Edition versions of their avatar until the 18th of August, at which point they will not be re-listed. Both variants take on a slightly more dragon-like appearance.The Limited Edition variants, known as Midgard and Kobranukus respectively, are more than simply recolours.
The Midgard avatar sports heavily decorated frills on the sides of the head, legs, arms and tail base. In all, the texturing is a lot more intricate, with highly contrasting colours and original patterning.
The Kobranukus is formed from the cobra shape, but sports spikes within the hood, and in various other places with the inclusion of horns. The fangs are narrower in this version, but also more plentiful. This version supports longer, thicker frontal fangs. Instead of the aforementioned spiked feet, the Kobranukus has reptilian feet, with three splayed toes tipped with claws.
Total Shift Productions really have provided to a rather niche area of anthropomorphic avatars, as very few thus far have successfully brought snakes into the grid. More importantly, they’ve managed to echo the species well, and whilst this is not an avatar that will blend seamlessly into the growing crowd of reptile avatars, I honestly don’t think it ever intended to from the start. The snakes and cobras are at once enjoyable to wear, and are a must for fans of these wildly varied creatures.